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Prepping for Downtime: Strategies and What to Know

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Downtime is stressful but proper planning can save your enterprise

No enterprise wants to encounter lengthy downtime. It can interrupt productivity, cut profit margins, hamper the customer experience, and lead to long-term brand damage. These days, downtime is an eventuality. For one reason or another, it can and will happen. Hardware failure and infrastructural failings – like power outages – are a couple of examples. Breach events due to cybersecurity breaches are others.

It does not mean it is always catastrophic, but it can be. The key is preparation and understanding what to expect.

How long is a downtime event?

In the context of a tech-facing IT environment – a business relying on tech to accomplish a majority of its tasks – it’s understandable to want specifics. How long, really, is a downtime event?

Unfortunately, there is no single “fits all” answer. Every organization is different with various resources at its disposal. Some more than others. Some are medical and school networks, others SMBs, and larger business organizations. It can also vary based on geographic location and available resources like cloud computing. Therefore, declaring an expected downtime can be misleading.

For instance, between 2020 and 2022, Statista reported the general downtime average as a result of a ransomware attack was roughly 24 days.

But that’s a specific case scenario in relation to malware attacks like ransomware. Other sources of downtime, like application or service failure, can cost an SMB up to $426 a minute according to IT evaluations. For bigger organizations, that can scale up to $9000 a minute.

Context aside, those are alarming numbers. Fintech organizations housing massive caches of customer and staff data are also responsible for their security, and improper management of said data can lead to hefty fines and potential regulatory penalties.

To get a feel for what your downtime scenario can look like, you need to take into account several factors:

  • The overall size of the organization, staff, IT experts
  • Systems and hardware, applications, software
  • Whether a comprehensive BDR policy is in place
  • The type(s) of data, systems, and infrastructure affected

The severity will vary. Some downtime events go from a few hours to a full day, some longer than a week.

Getting ready for downtime

There are no exacts when it comes to the dreaded downtime. Some good news, though, is downtime is so commonplace there are numerous strategies and methods to mitigate the impact. That all depends on your needs and the availability of resource capital. However, even the smallest organization can take healthy steps to prepare for downtime.

Often, cybersecurity takes center stage with discussions involving downtime. But remember, downtime events occur because of operational failure. Is that failure caused by human error, external factors, failing hardware/systems, or cybersecurity events? And, in that failure scenario, what caused it, and what services were impacted?

Even with those general questions, you can see how fine-tuned a proactive downtime approach should be. Identifying the failing system(s) and creating a resolution model is critical.

Firstly, take stock of what your current preventative measures look like. If you don’t have any, now’s the time to start building a comprehensive BDR plan. There are several ways to work on a backup recovery plan, like white-glove support solutions, penetration testing, acquiring external backup media, and creating a guideline for potential downtime scenarios. Without any form of BDR plan, you’re sailing into danger without a way of restoring essential services.

Second, in modern times, relying on only one form of backup-recovery method is not always sufficient. External storage media, data centers, and even remote environments are potential solutions to costly downtime.

Strategies for Handling Downtime

As you build a comprehensive BDR plan, you need ways to analyze, track, and reduce the chances for similar time-out events to occur.

Target the lifecycle of this event, following these general guidelines:

  • Capture the timeframe of the downtime event from start to finish
  • Record all impacted systems, software, applications, and services caused by time-out
  • Identify points of interest such as how the downtime event occurred (error, intrusion, disaster, etc)
  • Compile information into manageable, useful data profiles

Once you’ve collected, analyzed, and compiled this information it’s important to develop a plan of action. Again, your BDR is something you should have and fine-tune for various disaster scenarios. You should also consider backup operations if needed, like external call centers or data centers. You can also utilize an MSP (managed service provider) where necessary.

It is indeed stressful, but with proper planning and resources, your business can get back on its feet in no time.

For additional services and inquiries about MSP offerings, reach out to Bytaging for more information

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